FAQ pregnancy and women's health - sickle cell anemia

Today I would like to share some vital information on the importance of a pregnant woman taking care of herself and for parents to prepare for taking care of their newborn. I get many questions about this topic, and I’m hopeful these FAQs will answer a lot of my readers’ questions.

Can you provide us with a list of how we should take care of our fetus?

It’s important not to wear tight clothing during pregnancy because aside from feeling uncomfortable, constricting garments also can lead to a host of health issues, such as pain and reduced blood circulation.

Rather than sitting still for a long period of time, you would help your baby and yourself if you went for a walk and did stretches.

What are a few of the known birth defects?

Sickle cell anemia is one of a group of inherited disorders that affects the shape of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Red blood cells are usually round and flexible, so they move easily through blood vessels. In sickle cell anemia, some red blood cells are shaped like sickles or crescent moons. These sickle cells also become rigid and sticky, which can slow or block blood flow. There’s no cure for most people with sickle cell anemia, however, treatments can relieve pain and help prevent complications associated with the disease.

Congenital Disorder. This is often an inherited medical condition that occurs at or before birth. The most common types are congenital heart disease which is an abnormality in the heart that develops before birth.

Down Syndrome. A genetic chromosome 21 disorder causing developmental and intellectual delays.

Cleft Lip And Cleft Palate. Openings or splits in the roof of the mouth and lip.

Spina Bifida. A birth defect in which a developing baby’s spinal cord fails to develop properly.

Club Foot. A birth defect in which the foot is twisted out of shape or position.

Phenylketonuria. A birth defect that causes an amino acid called phenylalanine to build up in the body.

Edwards’ Syndrome. A condition that causes severe developmental delays due to an extra chromosome 18.

If your child is born with a Birth Defect, what can you do?

  • An important first step after you learn about your baby’s diagnosis is to find a supportive medical team experienced with treating birth defects 
  • Ask for help
  • Prepare siblings
  • Make a plan

What are some of the stats on Birth Defects?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, birth defects affect nearly 1 percent or about 40,000 births per year, followed by cleft lip, hernia, and Down Syndrome.

What Is Autism?

Autism is a serious disorder of behavior and communication. In its mildest form, autism may resemble a learning disability. The more severe forms of autism involve self-injury. Symptoms of autism may be noticed in the first
three years of life. Babies who resist cuddling and don’t respond to their environment may be showing early signs of autism. You can learn more about autism spectrum disorder: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html and how pregnancy may shape a child’s autism: https://www.spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/pregnancy-may-shape-childs-autism/.

You also might want to learn about the link between maternal infection and autism. Here is a good resource for you: https://www.spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/pregnancy-may-shape-childs-autism/

What are some of the important things that we need to know about our newborn?

In my book The Truth About Parenting, pages 36 to 44, there are a plethora of things that you can have at your fingertips on how to care for your newborn.

In your research, did you find out which milk is better for your baby: breast milk, cow’s milk, or formula?

Breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby. It contains just the right amount of nutrients. It is also gentle on your baby’s developing stomach, intestines, and other body systems. Here’s another online resource for you: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/breastfeeding-your-baby/breast-milk-is-the-best-milk

Breastmilk has the nutrients that are best for your baby’s brain growth and nervous system development. Studies of breastfed babies have found that they do better on intelligence tests when they grow older. A breastfed baby’s eyes also work better. This is mostly because of certain types of fat in breastmilk.

Can parents make infant food for their  baby?

​Yes, you may find several benefits to feeding your baby homemade foods. It can be less expensive than store bought, for example. It can let your child enjoy baby-friendly versions of foods they see the rest of the family eating.

Here’s a resource for you: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/ask-the-pediatrician/Pages/Is-it-OK-to-make-my-own-baby-food.aspx

In summary

Taking care of yourself during pregnancy is vital for both the health of the mother and the baby. Here are some important things for pregnant women to keep in mind:

  1. Eat a healthy and balanced diet: Pregnant women need to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. They should also avoid certain foods such as raw or undercooked meat, fish with high levels of mercury, and unpasteurized dairy products.
  1. Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water is essential during pregnancy as it helps to prevent dehydration, constipation, and urinary tract infections.
  1. Get enough rest: Pregnant women should aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night, and take breaks during the day when they feel tired.
  1. Exercise regularly: Exercise can help pregnant women manage their weight, reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension, and improve their mood.
  1. Attend prenatal appointments: Regular prenatal appointments with a healthcare provider can help ensure the mother’s and baby’s health and detect any potential problems early.
  1. Avoid harmful substances: Smoking, alcohol, and illicit drugs can be harmful to the developing fetus and should be avoided.

As for preparing to take care of a newborn, here are some important things for parents to keep in mind:

  1. Learn about breastfeeding: Breastfeeding provides many benefits for both the mother and the baby, and it’s important to learn about it before the baby arrives.
  2. Prepare the home: Make sure the home is safe for a newborn by removing any potential hazards and purchasing essential items such as a crib, changing table, and car seat.
  3. Get support: Having a support system in place, such as family or friends who can help with cooking, cleaning, and caring for the baby, can make a big difference in easing the transition to parenthood.
  4. Learn about newborn care: Taking a newborn care class can help parents learn about topics such as bathing, diapering, and feeding.
  5. Take care of yourself: Parents need to take care of themselves to be able to take care of their newborn. This includes eating well, getting enough sleep, and seeking support when needed.

I invite you to buy The Truth About Parenting, so you can learn firsthand all of the truths I write about.